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Meet MonkeyLectric


While we were at Maker Faire, our videographer Gregg and I wandered around the faire to check out peoples' projects and get the low-down on what everyone is out there making. We ran into some really amazing people and saw some great projects. One of the projects that we really liked is from Berkeley-based MonkeyLectric - check out the video:

Above you'll hear all about MonkeyLectric from one of their employees, Laurent Rains. Laurent was kind enough to give us a sample (which we will be "testing" shortly). The thing that we really liked about MonkeyLectric is that, as a company, they consider themselves, first-and-foremost, bicyclists. Their passion is bicycling and they set out to make a project that would enhance what they love to do. In that sense, they kinda reminded us of ourselves - we are, to put it simply, electronics enthusiasts. We do this because we love it - and we saw that same quality in MonkeyLectric. Plus, their products were just plain cool.

Check out the KickStarter page for their newest product - the Mini Monkey Light M210 - if you want to pre-order your very own. You can also check out their website here. Nice to meet you, Laurent, and best of luck!


Comments 33 comments

  • I had a hard time following Laurent’s presentation because all my mind kept hearing was “This one time, at band camp…"
    Also, am I the only one that gets frustrated when incredibly intelligent people make nothing but things that blink? I concede that there is a market for neat blinky things, but please, make things that are actually useful.
    ^^ I know this comment is slightly out-of-place since the name of this site is SparkFUN, but it gets really old when you see so many useless things being made with such powerful technology.

    • While I completely understand your sentiments, blinky things on bicycles are quite useful…

      • Curse you, twobluenope!
        When you said, “I had a hard time following Laurent’s presentation because all my mind kept hearing was "This one time, at band camp…”“
        I rushed back to the top to watch the video, expecting a hot redhead recounting things she did with her flute. Did I get hot geekess Alyson Hannigan? No. I got Ron Stoppable !!! How could you mislead us so terribly?

      • yes. safety lights are boring (or even uncool) so people don’t like to use them. monkey lights are designed as a safety device and have been widely used and tested as such. the fun comes in as a way to increase adoption rates - both of cycling and safety lights.

      • My only issue with the project is that the lights are good, but are useless in the fact that they are more of a distraction to pedestrians and drivers a like.
        If I saw one of those on Diag Hwy, and driving, it would be hard to stay focused on the road, and not the cyclist.
        In my thought process, this type of project should be focused on safety first, and artsy features second.

        • Yeah, I’d agree with this. Living around Boulder, this is bound to create an accident sooner or later.

          • I hear that lack of side-visibility at night is the biggest cause of bikes being run into. If this helps bikes be seen from the side then I bet it would stop a lot more accidents than it causes.

            • this goes way beyond just visibility. it easily crosses over into distraction.

              • No, this only goes beyond visibility and into distraction when the driver allows themself to become distracted. There are many, many things on the road that can cause distractions and it is up to the driver to pay attention. That is the utmost basic safety principle of driving. The same distraction argument could be made about billboard signs, neon lights, or anything. If the driver can’t focus and gets in a wreck because of these MonkeyLectric lights, it’s still COMPLETELY the driver’s fault.

              • Which is exactly why “blinky lights” (and other generally distracting things) are often illegal to put on cars. Seems obvious that bikes, wanting not to be targets, should avoid the same. Of course, I do all my riding off the road, and I don’t care what the deer think.

        • I had the same thought, too. It might be a little too amazing.
          Agreed, that anything can be a distraction for a driver (or cyclist, for that matter). But being distracted by a bicycle - at night - could be a real safety concern.

        • To be fair, that can be said about any vehicle on the road that doesn’t subscribe to the norm, then; sports cars, veteran cars, junky cars, funny logos on trucks, or just pretty much anything that has text on it, including construction/information road signs.

          • Agreed, but at least in a car you’re more protected than with a helmet on a bike…

            • So what your saying is, since you are in a car, you don’t have to pay attention to what your doing? If something distracts you, have some discipline and pay attention. Do you take your eyes off of the road for every flashing light you see?
              Stay away from the Bay Area if you do.

    • No, you are not the only one frustrated by the short-selling of our intelligence and creativity. I am starting to grow weary with all these things that seem to promise so much power to the now enabled garage engineers, yet rarely progress beyond what is easy and will get the most hits on you tube.
      At least in the days when engineering projects were driven hard by profit, there was a much stronger evolutionary process. But now every slightly different variation or geotracking, POV, or twitter connectivity gets elevated to the status of revolutionary.
      This stuff is fun, and its cool, sure - but sometimes it really feels like a squandered gift.
      This is SparkFun though - so anything that is fun, or sparks the imagination is go here - and we are better for it - but I think we need to keep things in the right perspective. These people are not putting us on the moon, they are making blinky wheels.
      edit: In fairness, the video pro system does look impressive, even profitable.

      • I think I have a solution for you. Come up with something intelligent, creative, and fully delivering on its promises of “power” on your own.

    • People make what they make because it interests them, and at times earns them money. The “spark” of intelligence and drive inventors have for their projects is directly proportional to their interest in it. Quite often what is “useful” is simply not interesting, or worthwhile to pursue.
      A better way of going about creating “useful” things is to sponsor inventors who are interested in creating such things, rather than lamenting the choices of others.

  • Holy DIY perfecta!
    Also, super-cool that MonkeyLectrik co-founder Dan Goldwater is also co-founder of one of my daily obsessions: Instructables! (in disguise).
    OFF-TOPIC: I wish there was an arduino version of this. I tried a POV wand with a smiley-face, but you couldn’t make it out. Is it crucial to have some sort of switch to get in in sync?

    • I think some sort of switch would be necessary so the controller knows where to start “painting” the image. I would also like to see a arduino version for those of us that just want to dabble a bit and not invest a ton of money.

  • I have been one of those 2 AM night bike commuters. The next thing to wearing your helmet and both your forward white like and your red reflector lights, is some way to get the attention of drivers of Car. We have had too many deaths here in Seattle; do to a car not seeing a bike. My bike was decked out with reworked LED Coast Helmet lights, that I was told cars could see for over 2 miles, and lasted for ever, thanks to rechargeable Metal hydride battery pack. I had three LEDs red cylon reflector lights, one on the back of the bike, one on the back of my Helmet, and one on my backpack. If I could have LED’s on my gloves (it rains here) I would have done it. The only think I could think would have made it better was if the LED lights could have had some form of DC to DC converter to make the lights last longer.

  • Oh yes, now this is a cool product.

  • They have these for cars as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb3THwZjnHY

  • so cool. I want one now :)

  • They need to raise $27,500 to fund this? That’s pretty ridiculous.

  • I seem to recall that the bicycle wheel POV project was first demonstrated by Adafruit in the early to mid 2000’s. The 90 second video is a nice progression of this concept.

    • adafruit does have a great kit, and one which inspired me personally, however bicycle wheel POV was demonstrated as early as 1998, and i think earlier. for example see US pat 5903224: http://www.google.com/patents?id=cxwXAAAAEBAJ

      • And then there were the bikes of my childhood - book rack on the back, bell and streamers on the front, and for special effects, a playing card clicking against the spokes, held in place with a clothes pin. (This also frequently resulted in one end of a clean sheet lying on the ground, and parental frustration during that evening’s game of bridge.)

    • www.ladyada.net/make/spokepov/index.html

  • It would be cool to have it run off a generator.

  • The new evolution of cards in the spokes and spoke beads. While not the only POV bike product out there, I like what MonkeyLectric is doing. Almost makes me want to dust off my bike. Almost.


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